47 Metres Down
(M) General release (89 minutes)
It's a great time to be in the shark movie business. It used to be that we had to go in the water to put ourselves in danger, but no longer. The sharks now come to us, in movies such as Sharknado (2013), in which a hurricane dumps a mess of sharks on Los Angeles, where they are eaten by Hollywood agents.
I made the last bit up, but you get the idea. The shark movie is a newish playground, in which computer-generated great whites (the undisputed stars of shark casting) are capable of going anywhere, courtesy of freakish conditions.
This year alone, shark releases include Trailer Park Shark (does what it says on the tin), Toxic Shark (acid-spitting shark terrorises tropical resort) and my favourite, 5-Headed Shark Attack, in which a beast with five heads terrorises the Puerto Rican coastline. Ay caramba! Why not six?
It's obvious these movies are related to climate change anxiety, although it's an odd combination. Fear of sharks is primal, immediate, irrational. Fear of climate is more cerebral, but it offers scriptwriters an easy path to cheap thrills, the modern equivalent of a drive-in movie.
47 Metres Down is a classier version of that, a movie that revels in its ability to renovate the cliches of horror in a new setting.
The plot is simplicity itself: two sisters go cage-diving with sharks during a Caribbean holiday, but the winch breaks and they find themselves in a cage on the bottom of the ocean, running out of air and encircled by you-know-whats.
Matthew Modine stays top-side as Captain Taylor, whose boat is so old, it might have been used by Bogart in To Have and Have Not (1944).
Kate, the older sister (Claire Holt), is the more timid. She is broken-hearted, since her boyfriend dumped her. Lisa (Mandy Moore) thinks adventure will cheer her up.
The script is full of "don't worry, you'll be fine" lines, because that's required in a horror movie, in order to flatter the audience.
We would never be so stupid, we tell ourselves. The job of a writer here is to break that down, to the point where we are in the cage with them, frightened half to death.
The film does it well, even with all the cliches. About 90 per cent of it is filmed underwater, in the glistening waters of the Dominican Republic and in an underwater film studio in Basildon.
Holt and Moore deserve medals for the amount of time they must have been wet and uncomfortable while doing these scenes. They are fitted with full face masks that allow them to talk to each other by radio, which leads to some hilarious moments.
At one stage, they see a light in the distance. They both start screaming and waving, but as in space, no one can hear them scream.
The other stars of the film are of course, the sharks. They've come a long way since Bruce, the truculent malfunctioning prosthetic great white in Jaws.
To paraphrase that movie, modern filmmakers know they are going to need a bigger shark. This one supplies some beauties - not so big that they become unbelievable, but bigger than anything we have seen in a nature documentary.
At a depth of 47 metres, the sea is dark, which adds to the suspense and allows the computer bods creating the sharks to keep things murky, but even so, these sharks look real.
And they do seem to enjoy having a chance to bite two lovely young women, after years of feeding on disgusting shark chum, thrown in the water to make them crazy. Chips with that?